Vancouver church invents oddball musical pairing

A bouncy castle will be used to power organ pipes at Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Saturday

Science is a wonderful thing, if for no other reason than its many applications to simply explain the complexities of the world around us.

You can take baking soda, mix in some vinegar and the next you know, you’ve got a simulated volcanic eruption in your kitchen.

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Take an organ, for example. Or more specifically, its parts. The pipes need air to make sound, but where that air comes from doesn’t particularly matter.

The folks at Holy Trinity Anglican Church will capitalize on that fact Saturday when Michael Park channels his inner Bill Nye.

The church’s musical director, Park is repurposing scores of old organ pipes through the magic of a bouncy castle, beach balls and other inflatables.

The sound installation project that will come out of the unusual marriage is being used as the centrepiece of a fundraiser to fix the church’s organ, which was installed in the church in 1912.

“Anything that moves or holds air can power the pipes for an organ,” Park told the Courier. “Half jokingly, I thought, ‘what about a bouncy castle?’

Getting about $50,000 to fix the organ is the point of the exercise, but showing the young’uns how science works is the means to make that happen.

The pipes in question range in length from eight inches to eight feet and have been accumulating at the church for years. Holy Trinity’s previous organist couldn’t stand to let them go, and they’ve been sitting in storage without much in the way of a usefulness.

“I have 200 to 300 square feet worth of space of organ pipes,” Park said. “They’re not really serving a purpose at the moment which is why I wanted to do something to activate them.”  

Park reckons the old Casavant organ needs at least $500,000 in restoration work to get it back into ship shape. Park said the 106-year-old organ carries with it a Class C designation, meaning that most of its parts are still original.

“That includes the leather, which is an essential part of the wind mechanism of an organ,” Park said. “But the problem with 106-year-old leather is that it doesn’t hold up so well and over the years, we’ve had leaks and problems with the wind support. The organ needs a substantial investment.”  

Starting with a modest goal of $50,000 spread over a few fundraisers — more will be in the offing after Saturday’s event — is a good, if not reasonable, start towards that goal.

Outside of the sound installation, church tours are scheduled and members of the Royal Canadian College of Organists will be on hand to answer questions.

Billed as the “Bouncy Castle Organ Extravaganza,” Saturday’s event runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and admission is by donation. The church is located at the corner of Hemlock Street and 12th Avenue.

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